Jenny Wakfen is utilizing her project management skills in her homeland, Papua New Guinea, to address catastrophic climate change and other global environmental issues through innovative community-based projects.
As the Officer in Charge of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) in PNG, Jenny oversees a broad range of projects relating to environment and sustainable development and ensures their successful implementation.
The GEF SGP is a global corporate program of the United Nations that aims to address environmental themes of climate change, biodiversity conservation, chemicals, international waters, land degradation, and sustainable forest management.
“We are focusing on giving out grants to community-based organizations and NGOs who have innovative ideas that are translated in a project manner to achieve results in terms of GEF thematic areas and sustainable development,” Jenny said.
“My current responsibilities include program and grant management in which project management is a desired skillset.
“It’s very interesting because this is the most relevant place where I am fully utilizing my project management skills.”
The benefits of certification
Jenny completed her Certified Project Professional Certification with the Center for Project Innovation in 2018 as part of the Australia Awards - Papua New Guinea program.
Jenny attributes what she learned with CPI to being game-changing for her professional competence.
“It really makes a difference. Previously, I really found it hard to plan out my work because the tasks involve coordinating with various stakeholders, who have their own issues and their own way of communicating,” Jenny said.
“When I came back from attending the training, I implemented what I learned. Basically, to really plan out my work in terms of scoping and work break down structure, time management, communication strategy with stakeholders, project risk management, and significantly the project finance.”
“It was very rewarding as I was able to successfully complete the task on time and according to what I planned, which brings a sense of job satisfaction.”
“And I could say that my training is very impactful to the organization, to the country, and to the communities I worked with.”
Innovation in the face of climate change
Jenny’s current role sees her collaborating with various community groups on a diverse range of projects.
One project Jenny played a role in was conserving a native tree.
“It's a critically endangered species due to climate changes,” Jenny said.
“The species was able to be conserved and protected through the project that we have managed.”
Another project Jenny is proud of is working with a women’s group to address crop damage caused by atypical frosts that regions of PNG have been experiencing.
“Farmers planted their potatoes and other crops but then suddenly frost came about as a result of climate change.”
“This women’s group came up with the initiative to introduce new varieties of crops that are resistant to frost damage.”
“In order to get the funding, they have to write up project proposals seeking financial support. And that's where they come to us.”
“My role was to screen their proposal, make assessments, provide monitoring and evaluation, and ensure the project’s success.”
From student to teacher
Recently, Jenny began a teaching role in her organization, passing on her project skills to colleagues.
“I am conducting a Project Monitoring and Evaluation Training for project coordinators for the projects SGP UN is funding,” Jenny said.
“I will literally impart some of the project management techniques I gained from CPI to those project coordinators.”
Jenny recalls how beneficial her certification was and how it helped her advance as a professional
“I personally experienced that the project management skillset helps me in system thinking - where an idea can be systematically developed into a business concept or a project plan,” she said.
“It also provides tools to track work progress, and it sets clear and effective communication strategies.”
“I would gladly recommend anybody to study with CPI. It’s truly rewarding.”